The novel opens with young Jimmie in the midst of a street fight “for the honor of Rum Alley,” a tenement street in New York City at the end of the nineteenth century. Jimmie is caught up in the “fury of battle” as he is continually assaulted by a gang of children from nearby Devil’s Row. He alone defends his street after his compatriots have run off. Some workmen watch the bruised and bloody-faced boy with mild interest and no intervention until a sixteen-year-old boy named Pete approaches and, after recognizing Jimmie, pulls the assailants off of him. When...
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